Register for AMR's First "Family" Trip!
There's a lot of great info packed into this blog post, I hope you'll read it all the way through and not just skim. You're encouraged to share as well!
As many of you know, I (Andrea Roberts, Reece's mom) am the Founder & Executive Director of A Mother's Rest. I am also the Founder of the Reece's Rainbow Down Syndrome Adoption Grant Foundation. Most of the world knows me as "Auntie". Over the last 11 years, I have advocated and fundraised for the international adoption of children with Down syndrome and other special needs.
Beginning in 2011, I've coordinated a family reunion "glamping" trip to several different Jellystone Parks, exclusively for our RR families. Lots of our kids can't tolerate the heat and need someplace quiet and cool for down time. Hotels and resorts are just SO expensive, especially for adoptive families which are often larger than average. Fully furnished cabins with kitchens, baths and AC at a reasonable cost are the perfect alternative, at a park that specializes in all-inclusive, safe, outdoor fun with pools, water slides, zip lining, jumping pillow, mini golf, arcade, gem mining, hay rides, camp fires, crafts, karaoke, etc.
Extended time together is an incredibly therapeutic respite! We basically book the entire park and let families choose the cabin config that is right for you. First night's deposit required at booking, then you make payments over the course of the year directly to the campground. And I can tell you, Yogi Bear LOVES LOVES LOVES our kids!
AMR is in the business of providing respite. Respite means many things to many people, but to me, it means anything that takes pressure off your shoulders and mind when it comes to your child or adult with extra needs. My son is 15. He has Down syndrome, but he also has ADHD and SPD. He's a runner, and impulsive...and strong...and did I mention 15? Hello, puberty, oy! As a parent, I DO understand the challenges of safety and having to be "on" every second. When we're at Jellystone Park, Reece still needs supervision, but he is capable of doing all of their activities safely. So when he takes off for the pool or the jumping pillow, it's ok if I'm a few minutes behind him. It gives him plenty to do physically, as well as a feeling of independence that I can't safely offer him out in the real world. When we go as a large group, everyone knows Reece and they can all serve as an extra set of eyes, hands or feet for me, and I also for them! It's a beautiful synergy we build when we're all together like that.
Not only are you free from the stares of others, nearly everyone there understands your challenges and can help you if and when needed. Your entire family will build lifelong friendships, and your kids will be counting the minutes until the next trip. Yes, it can be a long drive for some families, but I promise you, it's worth every mile.
Family trips to Jellystone Park are a confidence builder for your disabled children, a time to meet other parents, and even better, an amazing opportunity for your typical children to make friends with other kids who also have disabled siblings.
Now that I've retired from Reece's Rainbow, all of you at A Mother's Rest now also get to benefit from these amazing trips!
Our good friends at the Jellystone Park in Mammoth Cave, KY have offered us four nights together from July 13-17, 2018! Over (100) cabins are available, plus tent and RV sites. But don't wait! These will go fast!
I have visited this park many times, and I will serve as the trip coordinator. Any and all questions can be directed to me, preferably on FB chat/messenger, but also via email. NO NEED TO CONTACT THE CAMPGROUND.
HOW IT WORKS:
1) Families with children or adults with any extra needs are welcome to join us. We will ask for the child's diagnoses at registration.
2) You can come in any family configuration you want. Moms only, Dads only, Mommy & Me, or whole family. Grandparents, cousins, anyone you want to join you is welcome. Some cabin sites can also accommodate tents for older teens if you have a large family. (20) cabins are pet friendly. Several cabins have ramps or are on flat ground, which are suitable for children in wheelchairs or with other mobility issues. Many cabins have loft sleeping areas (fun for mobile kids). Golf carts are also available to rent (those are the best part of the trip, I think!)
3) Just like our other retreats, this trip is completely freestyle. The campground provides a zillion activities for you to participate in at your leisure. There are no scheduled group activities besides a group photo on Monday morning. Other than that, you are free to come and go as you please, however your child's needs dictate. And your typical kids will make so many new friends, you probably won't see them the whole time you're there :)
4) Per night costs include use of all on-campus amenities, including the pools, water slide, golf, arcade, and brand new BEACH facility! No additional per person charges for our group.
5) Visit the campground website at www.jellystonemammothcave.com to browse the many different types of tent, RV, and cabins available. Check out the sleeping layouts to determine which type is best for your family. Message me so I can give you insight, and help you choose a location on the map.
6) I have access to real-time availability and can tell you at any given time which cabins or sites are still open.
7) You make your reservation through AMR, I add you to our spreadsheet, and you have 30 days to make your first night's deposit. (the cost of one night) This can be paid directly to the campground with a check or credit card. You will receive an invoice/confirmation to make future payments with.
8) You can pay in full, send monthly payments, or quarterly payments. Payments must be recvd in a timely manner or your site will be released for other families.
9) We will be working on making grants available, but we won't know until much closer to the time of the trip. We hope that by giving you an entire year, that will help you be able to afford the cost easier. 10) If you want to stay longer than the 4 nights, you are welcome to do so. Just let us know that when you register so we can document it on the shared spreadsheet.
11) A private FB group of registered AMR families will be created so you can all get to know each other better before you come! None of you will be strangers by the time you arrive!
12) We will provide yard signs so it's easy to identify who is in what cabins. We'll also send out a cabin list closer to the time of the event. Even if you have never camped before, this is the perfect trip for beginners! We have tons of tips. Don't be afraid to try it!
13) T-shirts will be available for purchase in our Cafepress store later next year.
14) I have also inquired with another Jellystone in Maryland for August of next year, but have not heard anything back yet. If and when that gets worked out, I'll let you know.
Auntie is VERY excited to make new friends and to share this special trip with all of you!